Category Archives: marriage

We’re In A Race Against Time, Love and Fear of Love Not Being Real {Day 8}

On Fridays, I join up with Lisa-Jo Baker and others at her blog to write for five minutes with a one-word prompt, to be a free bird, writing without worrying if it’s just right, without editing or backtracking.

 GO. 

                                                                                                        photo credit

We are in a race against time, love
against all forces that drag us down and hold us back
Can you see me?
Can you see me bleeding love for you?
They said we weren’t supposed to be together
Remember that?
And so many years we’ve been together
And so much has been said and done
And when two people love one another but live in pain,
I wonder where God is in that
Sometimes I wonder if soul-mates don’t exist,
and maybe it’s just that God watches us make vows
and under God we keep them
on this holy ground
We’re in a race against time, love
We’re getting older and I don’t want to waste time
on these words that hurt
Let’s love passionately and rightly
and let’s fulfill sacred vows
and let’s not fill one another up
Let God do that
But let’s just love on one another
Lavish it thickly, like when I wake and feel you there
in the coffee and special cup you laid out for me
Or when I make you stand there and press into me,
take the hug you are unsure of,
and tell you to squeeze me harder until you relax.
And we’re in a race against time, love
I want to love you well before it’s too late.

STOP.

{This was more like 7 minutes; I awakened with this on my heart this morning–and fingers weigh heavy on keyboards when our hearts are heavy.}

You can click here below to go to Lisa-Jo’s site and see more 5 min. narratives on RACE–our one-word prompt for today…..
Five Minute Friday

Linking up with The Nester, and all the other 31-Dayers.…This ought to be one wild, brave ride…

Also linking with Laura for Faith-Filled Friday .

Do you struggle with fear of the love you have not being real, do you struggle in your human skin in your marriage? Do you struggle with fears of not having enough time to figure it out properly before it’s too late? Please tell me your story? Have you seen God redeem these doubts, these concerns? Have you found grace? Your comments so encourage me. I draw strength from your kind words and knowing you were here. My faith walk is seasoned with the right ingredients when you hang around…

Some other 31 Day collectives I’m loving: Shelly @ Redemptions Beauty, Amber Haines , and Lisa-Jo


This is one post in a series of 31 days of Fear. You can find the entire 31 Day collective here.  I have chosen to do this one on FEAR, because it seems to be something I keep wrestling with over and over, something that keeps me in chains, pins me down, won’t let me free. I hope you will come with me on this journey–to get a taste of glorious redemption as I soul-search and look for Jesus smack-dab in the middle of my fears. And Jesus sits with sinners. I won’t have to look very far.

Couldn’t we all use some freedom from those fear-chains that bind? I pray God gives me the strength and the courage to complete 31 days–y’all, it’s going to be hard on this ‘ol gal to write every.single.day. Pray for me?   







Friends, meet my friend, Jennifer Lee. She is so lovely and down-to-earth, a farmer’s wife in Iowa. I just love her, and you will too. If you would so kindly click here and go over to my friend, Jennifer’s site for a GIVEAWAY!You can enter until the 14th! Her sweet daughter, Lydia, is having a jewelry party to raise money for a school playground for children in Haiti. We know these children and families have been affected by much suffering after the earthquake. This jewelry is hand-made by our sisters in Haiti–Jennifer has been there, met them, hung out with them in their homes–and this is Jennifer’s project. By buying one of these beautiful necklaces, you will be helping a Haitian woman work to feed her family, AND you will be helping raise money for children to have a place to play! She is also giving away some jewelry, so hurry on over and share on facebook, twitter, etc for your spot in the giveaway! I’m definitely buying one–I hope you do, too!

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Loving You Recklessly {and Gratitude}

Oh, sometimes it just sweeps over me so violently–how I love you, my man, more than life itself. Our life together is all I know now, all I can really feel in the marrow of me. The memories of these years–the struggling, the bonding, the falling apart and coming back together, all the nights and days knowing your powerful love–in the sunshine on our faces as we work and play and in the night as we love with the moon glowing upon us–it’s all I really know deep in my soul.

You have taken me on such a wild, breathtaking love journey. I go on and on about intimacy and weigh down the air with words, but you have taught me the hard work of love every. single. day.

Every time you wash the dishes, try to help me get on track with a schedule, when you jump in without saying a word to help make up for my inadequacies–you teach.

How you are quiet in faithful trust, how you hold your tongue when I’m angry and I say too much–and you just stand there, looking at me, eyes an anchor when I look into them and me drowning in this sea of emotion–you let the grace just pour over us in waves.

When you patiently, quietly show the girls the way to do something right and responsible, and you laugh softly at their mistakes and you don’t harshly correct–you are love in motion. And I want to be this–this love in motion I see in you. That I get to be a recipiant– I am one blessed woman.

And honestly? I just don’t know why you keep putting up with me. I have a hard time staying within the grocery budget, I’m not a great housekeeper–I leave dishes piled high until after the kids and I have had fun outdoors, and I fail at keeping time–can never help us arrive anywhere punctually.

Grace is this thing that I’m always hoping for, and always surprised to receive.

And for all the times that I’ve held you to your debts, and forgot to forgive, I pray that grace comes on the wings of a dove, carrying the gospel message. And for all the baggage that may be stacked high between us, I pray that His justification and righteousness would come on the backs of wild stallions, their hooves pounding in the Christ-blood, and rescue us from our sin-wreckage.

Because I am just this wife that fails over and over again. I really cannot be the woman that you need, and then you bend over my bedside in still-dark morning and as I take in the smell of your cologne and sweet breath, feel the hot against my neck, you whisper into my ear affirming words, words of love and devotion. You always do this when we’ve had a hard night and disagreed.

You always come on powerful wings of grace and anchor me back to Love.

Gratitude:

3 gifts from my Heavenly Father…

#815 grace, grace, grace…How He loves, in spite of me

#816 how He picks me up and gently rocks me, soothes me, lets me know its going to be alright and hides me in the shadow of His wing–Psalm 17:8 “Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings.”

#817 how He leads me so faithfully always in the right direction, my steps sure

#818 how Eddie and I hold hands as a team, and we require obedience and responsibility from the children

#819 how Eddie leads us all in godliness and keeps us all on course with work ethic–yielding all to please our Father

#820 his phrase–“You have to work hard if you want to play hard”

#821 how we all know there is reward at the end of our work

#822 how Lorna says to me in the middle of couch being scrubbed down, “Mama, I feel good about the house being clean” and the pink glow on her pretty face.

3 difficult gifts…

#823 hormones taking over my body, I’ve yelled, and Lorna hugs me and tells me she forgives me.

#824 Husband and I, neither of us able to sleep, staying up all night with little one while she is in a night terror–all of our efforts unable to cure her inconsolable crying

#825 me and the girls missing the free theatre play because baby girl is throwing up–thankful little one is ok
 

#826 getting up earlier with purpose

#827 watering flowers in the hot, early morning sun

#828 peeking through the crack to watch them play, lost in child wonder

3 gifts I became today in serving…

#829 chauffeur

#830 neighborhood mom–foregoing my run for a playdate at our house–game of Bocee in the backyard and turkey and tofu lasagna for supper

#831 friend–dancing silly and making my daughter and her friend laugh

#832 folding clothes with my girls

#833 birds singing as we do schoolwork outside

#834 finding a bird’s nest in our little backyard tree

#835 teaching my little one to write her numbers

#836 her sweet dimpled grin, her and I both so proud when she writes her name

#837 lying in the hammock, all of us tangled up, reading Little House On the Prairie

a gift bent, beautiful, loved…

#838 bright yellow sunflowers brought to me by our neighbor, starting to wilt

#839 a tray brought to me by eldest daughter with fried eggs as eyes, toast with jam for a mouth, and bits of bacon for eyebrows and mustache –just because she knows her Mama has a hard time getting up in the morning and she enjoys serving

#840 Lilly’s soft blue hippo in her arms in our bed, her limbs splayed out, the hippo’s limbs hanging limply for the wear

#841 the girls and I climbing a tree to see newborn baby Brown Thrashers

#842 how devotedly and tirelessly the mama Brown Thrasher watches over and incubates her nest

#843 how in one fell swoop, the father appears from nowhere, sqwaking and thrashing his wings, threatening our young cat who has climbed right up to the nest

#844 his text to me sent out of the blue, sweet words of affirmation for no reason…

**Friends, your comments mean so much to me–they soul-drench me in grace and minister to me. And your prayers mean even more. I am not able to answer each comment–I am probably helping construct a science project, cleaning up potty-training baby girl’s messes, reading a good book with my kids in the hammock, playing tag, having a glass of wine with Husband, or just trying to breathe, friend! I hope you understand? Thank you in advance for grace. I love this community of grace-filled people! Head here to get to know me better and to read why during this season of life, I am just quietly writing, and not visiting via social media as much….

** Thank you for so, so much grace, friends. My heart cannot express in mere words, my thankfulness. I love all of you.






On In Around button




Resurrecting A Marriage {Ponderings of Easter}

The kids are at the grandparents for the weekend and we are getting ready to leave and Husband tells me matter-of-factly that it’s not a date, asks me why I’m wearing heels. Heels click loudly on hardwood and ring through the house and I am embarrassed at my obviousness. My heart is crushed, because in my little-girl-grown-up-heart, I had so hoped he would notice, say I was pretty, look at me longingly, put his hand just there on the small of my back as he led me to the car.

Instead, an hour later, it all comes out of me hot and rushed and a little too loud how that I don’t feel loved.

Why is it that God made me that way–with a particular love-language that my husband doesn’t understand?

I look up to Father, to the One who can fill this deep, vast void in me, this canyon of waters that rushes wild and snares anything that comes along in it’s thrashing.

I look to the One who knows the ache and understands the pain of rejection.

I look to the One who gets me, who points my sin out to me gently one by one, so I’m not overwhelmed, and seeing my ugly, loves me anyway–unconditionally.

I look up and I say to Him, “Father, you know my heart. You know my heart, Father. You know my heart.”

And He does. He knows that I love my husband passionately, that I would go to hell and back for that man, that my children are my crown of glory, that I would go down to the depths before I would let one blonde hair on their halo-heads be touched by evil. God understands, because His Son is His crown, whom He loves, in whom He is pleased, and I am a co-heir with him, and I am God’s beloved, His beautiful jeweled crown.

He knows that I spend hours reading, thinking, trying to learn new ways to make home happy and peaceful and safe and a place that everyone wants to be. He knows that I search frantically for the way. He knows that on my own I am helpless in the ways of homemaking and the ways of God.

He knows that I am a screw-up. He knows that just the moment that I write a beautiful story about mothering, and hit publish, then I grind my teeth and yell at my children, and their happy chin botches up and their lip turns down and quivers and the eyes look at me, deep pools of hurt.

He knows that I forget to be grateful, I forget to do the simple act of telling Him thanks, that this home has more harsh words–words that break– than I want it to.

He knows that I run in a vicious cycle of try hard, fail, give up and try hard again, as the Pastor said on Easter Sunday. He knows I try hard at Lent and celebrating Easter and I am deficient.

He knows that Easter draws close, I close up and want to withdraw, because as his death becomes more and more real, as the thing draws heavy upon me, my human emotions and expressions simply cannot do Him justice. And I’m rendered useless in His presence.

He is the only One that really sees my heart, sees my tears, mourns with me, catches my tears and keeps each one in a bottle. He never forgets one tear that escapes the soul-windows, them leaking out pain.

Husband and I walk hand in hand into a local restaurant dating back to the 1840’s and when we sit down and after the waiter has left, he touches my knee, looks me in the eye, and he already has me.

Those soft blue eyes with such care in them, I just get lost and want to leap right in like a wild woman. He says he is sorry, and that’s all I really need to hear. And the conversation continues and we talk about the artists splayed on the brick wall, and we are a little taken with the place, and I convince him to share some World Famous Black Bottom Pie.

What I really have a hard time swallowing down, though, as we sit there and I look at him, is that I have been ungrateful. I know that I pushed until I got what I wanted–time, closeness, and it’s just the two of us in all the world if I can just get five uninterrupted moments to stare into those eyes.

But I long for the day when I serve him so well that I have abundant grace to pour out when he is in a dry season and he can’t readily give me those moments–I long to be this woman full of grace, wisdom on my lips.

God, burn me, Refiner’s fire, from the inside out–start with my mouth–and just take over and consume–love through me, serve through me.

Later when we are finally alone in the dark, and he reaches over and lays his hand on me as I lie still, lets it slide down, I feel the kindling of the moment, tiny sparks that take over and consume.

And I am this–bride waiting with candle burning brightly, always waiting for her bridegroom when he chooses to come for her.

I weep inside over who I’ve been, for when I have fallen asleep and let my wick go out, when I have missed the glory of God, quenched the Holy Spirit with the crushing words of my mouth.

I weep only on the inside and I open up completely to him, this man that has such power over me, let the grace pour over me as the love between us is made.

My heart, through my husband, is revealed to me and drawn back to God, who holds me and is the only One who can fill this scary, raving mad unquenchable void in me.

Gratitude:

#689 e-mails from beautiful sisters

#690 for mentors

#691 illness leaving our home finally, Satan’s lies defeated

#692 my best friend coming to my home for a spontaneous visit

#693 the grace of her sitting on my porch swing, pouring our hearts out

#694 the way she dotes on my girls–how she does this everytime she sees them–the thousand, countless ways she is thoughtful toward me

#695 how they call her Auntie April, because she is that to them

#696 our run through the trails later

#697 how we can say anything to one another, how we kackle silly and share unabashadly what God is showing us about our sinful hearts

#698 hours outside in the sun picnicing, Husband coming home and playing badmitton until twilight pushes us all inside

#699 how Bella runs up to her Daddy in the drive and asks him to come play–how he can’t say no

#700 Bella writing her ABC’s and her name

#701 her dimpled grin–how her whole face lights up like the heavens when she shows me so proud–how i could fall into those deep ravines of cuteness and get lost right there at the corner of her mouth

#702 how I wonder if the glory of God can be summed up in the face of this child

#703 Ivy’s loving hugs that make me feel wrapped up in a warm blanket

#704 Ivy coming and telling me she clasps her hands together and prays to Jesus in her head, and she hears Him talking to her

#705 Lorna’s “I Am From” poem–that she’s a poet at heart like her Mama

#706 that I was able after a two-year battle with illness, to take babies to doctor and store–still can’t believe I’m better–glory to Him

#707 After Bella’s shots, her concern when the nurse places Lilly on the table, and she says to my Granny upon stepping out of the room: “I bet Lilly is crying.”

#708 an incredible few weeks of Lent and how God has lavishly blessed our time together as a family

#709 how He took us from being lost in exhaustion and t.v. to re-focusing our efforts toward our family goals–His grace to be at the supper table, enjoying God together

#710 an amazing Easter service, indescribable worship to an even more indescribable God, communion and the confession of sins at the altar, loving prayer woman-to-woman and man-to-man, the gospel like i have never seen it presented

#711 how in my failures, God meets me and when my human emotions fall short of expressing and celebrating His beauty, how He is still glorified through me, not because of me, but because He is God

#712 that the story of the cross and His blood shed never gets old–a fresh revelation of His gospel and grace all over again

#713 that God almighty Himself would wrestle with me, would reveal Himself to me, over and over, in spite of myself

#714 that His blood speaks a better word than all the empty claims I’ve heard upon this Earth, speaks righteousness for me and stands in my defense–lines from a favorite song

#715 a beautiful day of Easter celebration with family, that I was able to pull off a gorgeous dinner, with all their help, in spite of my organization handicap–how we all worked together, talked, laughed

#716 the beautiful grace of my parents washing up the dishes side-by-side before they left

#717 my Husband, how even though I’m his help-meet, he is also my helper in life–how he is there for me always in every circumstance and we are a team

#718 Husband’s remark as we fall asleep, a beautiful day, a job well done, everyone was proud, he says–I don’t understand this, but accept the grace anyway

#719 this song that broke me during Easter service–one of my favorites… and here is the video–it is  not for the faint of heart, but is a real depiction of our Lord and the blood He spilled for us…the blood I praise Him for…

{I actually have two videos for you…if you only have time for one, definitely–choose the second–I watched this at church Sunday and have never heard the gospel presented quite like this–it will rock your world}

Friends, your comments mean so much to me–please leave your thoughts so that I can drop by at your place to leave some encouragement for you. I am not able to answer each comment–I am probably in some corner of my home sorting through laundry in danger of mildewing, and I hope to visit with you as soon as I get the chance! Thank you in advance for grace, friends! I love this community of grace-filled people!

Shared with Ann in community at…

and Laura…

L.L…
On In Around button

Emily…

Jennifer….

Michelle…

and Shanda…

Maybe An Epic Fast Fail Is Really Doing It’s Most Important Work? {What To Do When We Fall Short}

I don’t eat anything at lunch except a pulsed, whirled-together berry and banana juice–nothing added. I speak a couple prayers out loud to God for friends sick and in need. The afternoon stetches out long, and as I’m getting ready to go run, the stomach churns.

I raise my voice at my daughter, exasperated at all that needs to be done and what little time and I can’t even eat anything. My head pounds and I go to the cupboard–medicine? But knowing what the headache craves I head toward the fridge, pull out a yogurt, and leave it sitting on the counter and decide on nothing for the slamming pain.

Maybe fasting is not doing it’s job–it is so obvious to me that I’m not very holy.

Quickly brushing Husband’s lips when he walks in the door, my kiss half lands on air and half lands on him in my great rush. He leans towards me for a hug and I dart in and back out, and dash into the laundry for my shirt.

I cannot be late.

As I run around the house, throwing on tennis shoes, flinging on a hoodie, words snap harsh at Husband and the air weighs heavy. “Love you!” I call, but the words seem to fall dead. I run to the door with a quick, “Bye!”

Then Ivy jumps up off the couch and runs over to me, “Mama!” She lands into me with one of her special hugs, so soft, slowing me down.

I tilt her chin, look into her eyes, and tell her, “Mama is sorry for fussing at you, ok? I’m sorry I got angry. But I need you to obey me, alright?”

She nods, her face full of emotion, and it strikes me that she looks up at me with full submission, her body leaning into me vulnerable, the way I should look to God. “I love you, baby.” I squeeze her again.

I jump in my husband’s red car, and as I pull out the drive and head down the road, then make the right onto the highway, and whir past the brick houses, past the daffodils happily fencing in yards, I feel a little like I’m trying to catch up with myself–a little dizzy.

It’s not until I pull onto the interstate that I realize the need to phone Husband to say I’m sorry.

On his end, it’s obvious in his voice, he is tired, having come home from work, our little ones hanging on him. He says he’s sorry too. But I can feel the weight in his voice, the weight of what I’ve done.

My friend and I run and she talks to me and I tell her I will pray, that I’m by her side. We run in the night and I tell her that I’m not going anywhere, no matter what she decides. In the darkness we hug. I feel like a hypocrite. I yearn to get home to them.

In the dark, I walk up the concrete side-door steps and let out a coming home exhale. Opening the door after a grueling 4 mile run on hilly terrain, the smell of roast and vegetables that I cooked in the crockpot earlier in the afternoon hits my senses full and my stomach lurches, my mouth winces sour.

I know what the articles on running say: always eat protein right away so that the muscles can repair themselves and have full functionality.

But I choose the spiritual benefits–at least for now. I let Husband fix the plates and stay away. He laughs at my pained expression, my determination. He shoos me away so I’m not tempted.

I allow myself an apple and hot tea at bedtime and I still get in bed with stomach aching and body shaky. I lie there thinking I know how I messed up today, not eating any protein, being snappy and yelling at my family.

I ache in so many ways, a hollow ache not just from lack of real sustenance, but this is a different kind of dulling pain–the pang of feeling deeply all I lack, how I create waves of throbbing hurt in the wake of my thrashing.

The deprivation of physical food is glaring at me my need for spiritual food. I didn’t realize I was starving.

I cuddle up to Husband and I tell him I’m sorry I was so awful, that I love him, and he exhales and sleepily says “I love you,” and this calms me. I try to settle my body and go to sleep, but my sugar level does loopy things, the body rattles head to toe, and the mind races and as the clock silently ticks closer and closer to midnight, I finally decide that sleep is more important than anything at this point, {my children need their Mama to get sleep, trust me!}.

In the kitchen, where I give into my flesh and satisfy it, I feel guilty–guilty for needing food so badly.

So, I have failed at fasting–completely and utterly failed.

In the dark, always the dark, I lie there, stomach satisfied and wonder if God can help me, sin-filled me, craving-this world-me.

I ask myself which I crave more, the physical things that satisfy or God.

Ashamedly, I come to Him, face lifted up, submissive, my body wholly leaning into Him vulnerable. I can’t do any of it without You. 

The next morning I wake and have a text from my friend reminding me that she needs prayer. This makes me smile–maybe all is not lost.

Tuned a little more acutely to God now, my heart asks how I can follow Him today, how I can worship best today, serve my family ’til the edges are worn soft, pray for friends and family with sincerity as if it were me going through their trial.

I give all my guilt and shame and failure to Him. He accepts me with open arms, and I fall into His grace, the only thing that rescues.

Maybe, just maybe, the most important work has truly been done.

“Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’ Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to your from the forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. ” 1 Peter 1:13-19, emphasis added

“But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man’s sin: The judgement followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. For if by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:15-17, emphasis added

A few quotes by Piper on grace and our need to drink in God…

“Grace is the pleasure of God to magnify the worth of God by giving sinners the right and power to delight in God without obscuring the glory of God.”

― John Piper

“If you don’t feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because you have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because you have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Your soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great.”

― John Piper, A Hunger For God

“The greatest enemy of hunger for God is not poison but apple pie. It is not the banquet of the wicked that dulls our appetite for heaven, but endless nibbling at the table of the world. It is not the X-rated video, but the prime-time dribble of triviality we drink in every night.”

― John Piper, Hunger for God

 “The only answer in these modern times, as in all other times, is the blood of Christ. When our conscience rises up and condemns us, where will we turn? We turn to Christ. We turn to the suffering and death of Christ—the blood of Christ. This is the only cleansing agent in the universe that can give the conscience relief in life and peace in death.”

 ― John Piper, Passion of Jesus Christ 

Very convicting and nourishing to my soul, friends. What about you? Do you struggle with spiritual disciplines? Have you ever fasted and if so, what was your experience? I’d like to hear your thoughts!
 
 

A song that captivates me, reminds me of God’s love…maybe you need reminding, too?…

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Join me at Ann’s for more reflections on fasting, what it looks like and how it moves us toward God?….

Us Just Dust

What do I do with a heart given to me stone cold?

When it wants to reel me in, make me stand at attention,

But it doesn’t know how to hold

All day, the tears pour down

But all is silence, not a sound

And the apologies won’t come

There is a steel wall that I can’t get through

As hard as I try to call him back,

I am breathless in my effort

So empty am I of love

How my soul yearns for things to be loosed on Earth as they are above

I need the help of someone bigger than me

I need His eyes to see this tangled mess

How I want the earth to shift back into place again

Just let me without feigning touch your face

God never expected us to live this way

Oh Father help me in this fallen state

Where the pain is mind-numbing

And I don’t know how to fix us

God, let the three-chord strand hold thick, You the creator, us just dust

Shared with Emily…you will surely be blessed by visiting there!

Gazelle-Sprinting

It is late afternoon. My daughter and I have already done our exercise for the day and now we are outside in the warm Southern winter sun, it glancing only briefly from behind the clouds and trees, the orange orb caressing the back of our heads in heated strokes.

I’m relaxing in my hammock under the maple with it’s bare limbs meandering upward and jagged, and I’m doing some thinking and writing. I’m enjoying my writing, but I feel a little restless and slightly off-kilter.

Then the girls come up to me, panting and ask me to play tag, blinking their request at me, their eyes full of uncertainty and it anchors me.

I look back at them and I feel energized because I’ve been practicing. I’ve worked out hard and I’m ready for anything they ask me to do.

I jump up and their faces shine excitement and the world shifts back into place.

I chase my daughter who is almost as tall as me, and she chases me all the way around our house, under the shade tree and around the perimeter of our large yard. I stay ahead of her, leaping over fallen branches, acorns crunching underneath my shoes, and this is no small feat, since my long-legged girl sprints like a gazelle.

When their father gets home and finds us in the backyard, he is easily coaxed by his little girls to join in the game.









I watch him dodge this way and that, pretending to run fast for the little one while she chases after him, and as I stand there and watch, my face flushed with the thrill of it all, I remember why I married him.

I flush with something else.

A powerful love.

It wells up inside and makes me aware of what’s between us.

The children pull him to the ground and fall on him in laughter.

It rings out and all around and envelopes us.

We all carry the high spirits inside to face the work that awaits.



Gratitude:

3 ways i glimpsed the startling grace of God…

#476 when i talked about being afraid, all the women one by one around the table, admitting they were just as fearful

#477 women opening up and being honest, how freeing it is

#478 husband telling me he will take the children to church so I can rest and have the night off

one thing i wore, one thing i gave away…

#479 a purple and red hand-sewn flower headband

#480 clothes waiting to go to a teenage girl

3 ways i witnessed happiness…

#481 Sunday worship service melting all of my hard exterior of pain

#482 having a new running partner–that I wasn’t too afraid to ask–pure grace!

#483 the comfort of Sunday lunch at my grandmother’s–like going back to my childhood

one gift that made me laugh, made me pray, made me quiet…

#484 this post…oh how it made me laugh out loud! you must read!

485. my blogging friends, little Kelly in the children’s hospital with lukemia, God waking me in the middle of the night

#486 a friend tells me i’m a beautiful person, on the inside…makes me a little speechless

3 gifts from God’s Word…

#487 this verse: “See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land…Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me.” Song of Songs 2:11-13

#488 the Psalms that quiet my soul

#489 Romans 8:28 through the end of the chapter–our family portion of scripture

a grace in the kitchen, in the weather, that might never have been…

#490 kitchen countertops, slow-going, but being finished

#491 nice, warm weather in January for me and the girls to play outside in

#492 our little Lilly Claire, our last, our surprise baby

3 gifts i saw only when i got close-up…

#493 the fanning of Ivy’s long eyelashes, the green flash

#494 the adorable soft pink of my cat, Pumpkin’s nose

#495 Lilly’s stubby toes, her lifting them up to me, wanting me to pick out the fuzz in between them

one thing in the sky, from my memory, one ugly-beautiful…

#496 a bold blue jay and Bella’s “Look, Mama! A blue bird!”, pointing her little finger up

#497 all the work-days, and lazy-days, all the days of hanging suspended in the hammock, of gardening and planting and transplanting flowers, of putting wine bottles in earth for borders, all the days of swinging on the porch and watching the kids play, of bright summer sun shared by us all

#498 laundry and watching Little Women with my girls…giving me an opportunity to get my hands dirty and serve, to make me softer around the edges, a sweet moment shared with my girls

one grace wrinkled, one smoothed, one unfolded…

#499 rain on the window, how it makes my vision a little warped, a hard washing and cleansing

#500 how Husband can soothe me….you can read about it here…

#501 Ivy and Bella’s small hands unfolding to me with a beautiful gift…dandelions for me to make a wish



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Belonging

It is evening and we’ve had an argument…I have been crying on his chest…showing the weakness that I hate to show, but it is the weakness that, in spite of me, softens him. I am weary from life, and all that seeks to destroy me, wear me down, and take me under. We are moving around, speaking to one another, trudging forward through the thick mud around our feet, desperately needing a change, but knowing that this is what change feels like–it is the uncomfortableness of moving forward when it is really hard. Then he comes and tells me while I’m in the shower, that my eldest daughter has asked that I wear my black special occasion dress, and that she is preparing something for us. I ask, “Why?” He says, “I’m not sure what is going on, but she says she is doing something for us, and she wants us to get dressed.”

This takes me out of my comfort zone–I don’t feel like getting dressed up in my fancy black dress–I feel like resting–it’s been a rough day. I want to hide, because it is hard to feel that I belong. But I summon the courage to get dressed up and go to the dining room.

She tells her Daddy, “Don’t forget what you are supposed to do, Daddy.” He pulls out the chair for me, and I sit down. I feel like I am in an alternate universe, not really sure what is happening.

I hear Nora Jones’ soft, bluesy voice wafting in from the kitchen. I smile, knowing what she is up to, but there is no way that I could be prepared for what is to come.

They come in, bringing our dinner plates, and serving us–she has even dressed her sisters up for the occasion. I am in awe. And when she sets down the very humble little meal she has prepared in front of me, I do my best to let her see that I appreciate it. My children are daily teaching me lessons that no sermon could ever teach.

And then the dessert–such a wild, imaginative thing that only a child could dream up. I know that she has been watching some cooking shows, and trying her hand with creativity, and I am amazed that she soaks everthing around her up like a sponge. Noone has told her yet that she “can’t”. As she sets the plate in front of me, I know that it is just the plastic plate belonging to her little sister–not normally a plate fit for a dining table, but it doesn’t matter. I try to stay in the moment and feel this queenliness that she wants to make me feel.

But I am so humbled, and it is though at the moment my paradigm is shifting, and everything seems to be sliding. And I know that I am having to try too hard…what a wretch I am, that I can’t feel the happiness in this moment. And then she says, “Okay, are you finished with your plates?” and clears them away. “Now”, she says, “it is time for the dance”, eyeing her Father. So he takes my hand and leads me to the kitchen.

My head is spinning–I am not sure what to think. It has been years since this…dancing, closeness, this intimacy, and it is hard…I feel the air closing in around me. I feel the bittersweetness and insecurity of a new pattern that is not normal to our relationship. And I know he feels it too. I hear him say, “Been a long time since we’ve done this, huh? I can hardly find my voice, but when I do, I think I sound like a croaky, silly adolescent, unsure of myself and not wanting to let myself fully into the desire of the thing. I answer and stumble around, “Yes, it’s been..um..10 years.” I think about Lorna, and why she is doing this for us. Does she feel the tension, the stress?

As he holds me close, I begin to melt and everything all wound up tight begins to unravel, in a very, very good way–the way that only he can make things unravel for me. This is where my peace is–I have had to be away from him before, and I know that there is no peace in that. This is where I belong. And should I apologize for saying this and not giving God credit for my peace? I don’t think so–I believe that He ordained that I would feel only truly whole when I give myself over to another–completely giving and allowing myself to be vulnerable enough to feel complete in another’s arms. Here is where and how I come to God.

The more we dance, the looser and freer we are. The more free we are, the more the joy deep inside wells up. I stop worrying about Lorna. One day she will have to know about the stresses and arguments, down days and sadness of life. All I can do, being human, is to show her how to deal with those things when they come. Maybe if I’m looking at Him, whom i belong to, while she is looking at me, then everything will be alright.

And then my little girl takes me back twenty-something years ago to when I was a little girl, dancing on Daddy’s feet. And it makes me smile pure joy.

My gratitude:

#157 a day of swimming 1/2 mile in the lake–getting stronger

#158 fighting fears

#159 girls swinging on ropes–advice from a friend to let go more often

#160 my three littlest girls learning to swim

#161 Bella, apprehensive to get in the water, jumping in and swimming like a fish after a few minutes

#162 Bella’s 4th birthday party–while feeling the sadness of her daddy being at work, knowing that he and I are united for our daughter’s day

#163 This hardship has taught us to be a team–and the satisfaction of seeing the fruits of the labor of all of these years

#164 another woman’s wisdom and encouragement and I can listen because I know she has walked this road too

#165 friends that keep calling and writing

#166 that only my husband can love me the way he does

#167 a movie with just me and my girls, some popcorn and coke, and a screen bigger than life

#168 Bella, as I was trying to leave her with her Granny, when asked if she was sure she could stay awake for the entire movie, replying (with her cute lisp and nodding enthusiastically) “yesth.”

#169 Lilly running unsteadily and determinedly up to her sisters, grabbing them, folding into them in a hug

#170 eldest daughter, growing up so fast, so aware of the way things are in the world, creating a romantic moment for her stressed, burned out parents

#171 the grace to accept in humility this moment that my daughter gives, even though I feel undeserving, and what I really want to do is hide

#172 that God’s love brings me out into the open–all of my fears, failures, and insecurities want to retreat into isolation and darkness, but His love brings all things into the light and He refines me with fire.

#173 He uses my children to teach me

#174 because of this, I see a path by which i can learn to truly love, cherish, and respect them for the individuals they are

#175 husband’s texts and messages–checking on me, his love always there to catch me on a bad day

#176 having an upset stomach after an argument and a night stayed away from home and husband because it was too late to drive, and then the feeling of urgency to get home to his arms

#177 knowing that this is where i belong

#178 when i don’t understand the body of Christ, when my perspective is jaded, when people hurt and disappoint me, my husband that God gave to me is always there as the head, receiving direct shepharding for me from the Shephard and i can’t stray too far away from truth–and this truth amazes me.

Sacrificial Love

Husband is cradling me in the black wee hours of the morning, as tears run hot and I pour out my fears, tell him that I can’t make it stop, that I can’t sleep. It is a frightening thing, to relapse, to feel Satan tug at me–hard–to meet my anxiety and fear head on and to admit it vulnerably even here.

To hear the mind-numbing static constantly running through my mind…to get no relief and to not understand why. And yet, there he is, aroused from sleep by the worried sob accidentally escaping from his wife’s throat. And he is wrapping me in his love, his protection, his safe harbour. Here my worry can cease. He wipes it from my brow…whispers “it’s okay”, saving me from my dark pit.

Who am I to say that Christ’s work on that rugged, cruel cross wasn’t enough—the cross where He was isolated from His Father, hated, beaten unrecognizable, and killed through a gruesome death? Who am I to say that He can’t save me from this despair, worry and fear? I feel it through Husband’s loving embrace–the Creator is pursuing me. I feel Him, relentless…He won’t stop until I give it all up–my doubts, my reasonings and trying to make sense of it– until I know this fully—that He loves me.

And the God glory is especially heavy when my heart is heavy, weary, fearful, and when Husband cradles, skin to skin in the night, whispers in my ear that it is okay, that they are only lies from Satan and not to listen, gently smoothes my hair and touches his hand to my face even though he has to get up in the still-dark hours for work .

This is love. Sacrificial love.

When I hear and feel his heartbeat underneath, steady and alive, that strong chest receiving me like a child, it is then that I know that this is how God cradles me, how He holds me, how He soothes me, if I just lay and rest.

This is how God sees me…a child, afraid, but loved more than she knows, wrapped in grace and protection as a child is…as a wife is covered by her husband who loves her in the night.

This is what God wants me to know…He is my Father, and He loves me, and sees me through the blood of His Son…That Son that He gave, that Son that was the Word, that was with God, but took the punishment and received in Himself my sin so that the Father had to turn away…and that was the worst punishment…because in this sin-sick world, this world that shuns me and makes me feel bitter cold, I couldn’t imagine having the only thing that always holds me up taken away from me–my Father’s face. And Jesus giving that up for me reveals His powerful love for me.

And it is dawning, that this is the hard thanks that I wanted to learn. It is painful, aching, mind-reeling, and it threatens to break me, but it is these moments that I know His grace. It is these moments when I am afraid to pray, don’t know what to say, all balled up like a child inside, and His grace pours in, my husband holding me, soothing me, and it opens up His glory in varying hue and light–the splendor all around me–and there I am, lost…

and found in the shadow of the cross. In His love.

And this is where I learn to love…fully, with no regrets, no fear–knowing that God holds me and cradles me–no thought of self, or reward, forgiving and always hoping and believing the best–knowing that God is in control– humble and patient–knowing that He gives more grace–and giving of myself. Fully giving of myself until He completely takes over, until there is nothing left of me, until I have served and loved and devoted my time and energy and I am all spent, even to the point of death, yes, even there I will go for love…to carry this love to others for the One who gave it all–even His life. And He desires nothing less.